By Choi Hyun-june, staff reporter
After concluding the election for the 13th session of the Supreme People’s Assembly on Mar. 9, North Korea released the list of 687 new deputies on Mar. 11. Most of the figures who are considered to be part of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s inner circle are on the list, with no major surprises in who was added and removed from the list.
Kim Jong-un was also elected as a deputies for the first time, perhaps to imply that he is a leader chosen directly by the people. Though it does not result in any major changes, the election is regarded as serving to stabilize Kim’s power base.
While attention had been focused on whether Kim Yo-jong - Kim Jong-un’s younger sister - would be elected as a deputies, her name was not included on the list of winners in the election. With Kim Yo-jong accompanying her brother during the parliamentary election on Mar. 9 and with her name mentioned in North Korean media for the first time, expectations were high that she would become a deputies, but the results proved otherwise. Kim Jong-un’s older brother Kim Jong-chul and his half-sister Kim Sul-song were not elected, either.
As of Tuesday, it had not been confirmed whether Korean Workers Party (KWP) Secretary Kim Kyong-hee was included on the list. Kim Kyong-hee was the wife of Jang Song-thaek, former director of the KWP Administrative Department who was executed at the end of 2013.
During the election for deputies for the 12th session in 2009, there were two people by the name “Kim Kyong-hee” on the list of elected deputies, but this time, only one such person was elected.
Significantly, Secretary Kim Kyong-hee was elected from district no. 3 in the previous election, but the Kim Kyong-hee that appears on this year’s list was elected for district no. 285. As a result, it is very likely that Kim was not elected, South Korea‘s Unification Ministry said.
Some of the few figures who appear to have been removed as a result of the purging of Jang Song-thaek are Mun Kyong-dok, Chief Party
Secretary for Pyongyang, and Ro Seong-sil, former chair of the Joseon Democratic Women’s Alliance.
But other figures who were known to be close to Jang - including Kim Yang-gon, director of the KWP United Front Department; Ri Yong-su, director of the KWP Workers’ Organizations Department; and Park Myong-chol, councillor for the National Defense Commission - all maintained their seats or were newly elected as deputies.
“This illustrates indirectly that Jang Song-thaek did not have as many allies inside the leadership of North Korea as people on the outside had believed,” said Cheong Seong-jang, a senior researcher at the Sejong Institute.
Also appearing on the list of elected deputies were several young KWP deputy directors who have often been seen in the company of Kim Jong-un in recent days. These included Cho Yon-jun and Choi Hwi, both first deputy directors of the KWP Organization and Guidance Department, and Hwang Byong-seo and Ma Won-chun, who are deputy directors of the KWP.
In the diplomatic sector, Ji Jae-ryong, ambassador to China; Ja Sung-nam, ambassador to the UN, and Won Dong-yon, deputy director of the KWP United Front Department and delegation head in the high-level inter-Korean meeting that took place last month, were elected as deputiess for the first time.
Long-standing politicians who have symbolic status, including Kim Yong-nam, chair of the standing committee for the Supreme People’s Assembly; Kim Gi-nam, KRW secretary; and Choi Yong-rim, senior member of the KRW central committee, kept their seats despite being more than 80 years old. This suggests an attempt to balance the influence of the old-timers and the new-comers.
Last held in 2009, these elections involved just one candidate running in each district, with voters able to select yes or no, just as in the past. 99.97% of the total eligible voters took part in the election, with 100% voting in favor of the candidate. This is what is known as a Communist election.
During the election, 55% of the total deputies were elected to office for the first time. This is higher than the 12th session, when 47% of deputiess were replaced, but lower than the 64% shuffle during the 10th session.
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